Jun 20, 2008
Manga Review: Gunslinger Girl Volume 2 by Yu Aida. Translated by Eiko McGregor. Originally published in Japan by Media Works. Published in US by ADV Manga, $9.99, Rated 16+.
Volume 2 of Gunslinger Girl has less violence and more character development than the first installment. We start off with the backstory of Claes and end with the backstory of the first girl agent, Angelica. The most touching moments of the series are when the girls remember their humanity despite all the conditioning they receive to rid them of it. Even some of the adult handlers begin to question whether they are on the right side. The middle section of this volume deals with the Agency trying to stop mad bombers and rescuing the money man of an underground organization. But the plot is interspersed with quiet moments such as the girls going out in the dead of night to enjoy a meteor shower, and the tragic story of Angelica, whose own father tried to kill her for insurance money. The same Angelica whose memory is completely shot due to the massive amount of experimentation that was done on her.
The premise of Gunslinger Girl is quite disturbing but it does show how adults corrupt the world of children with no regard to their welfare at times. In a war against terrorists just how far would people be willing to go? What is the difference in sending 18 year olds to fight and die? Are they any less children than the girls we see here? Another poignant thing about it is that all the girls seem to have been unwanted, in some cases, even by their own parents. And that they cling to their handlers and to each other as the only family they have. Yu Aida never exploits the plot. I think the author is trying to show how a blank slate can be turned into a killer if properly trained. But there is something in the souls of the girls that is trying to fight its way out and reject this whole messed up situation. Thought provoking manga!
Check out Podcast Episode 90 for an audio review of Volume 1.My Grade: A